Matters of Facts, and Opinions, this week

When I was a kid, my family subscribed to the local broadsheet newspaper. (Remember newspapers?) There was an insert every Saturday called the Weekender, and after devouring the comics, it the first thing I read:  a eclectic collection of features that put events in context, was entertaining, and made for fine Sunday reading.

This week’s new offerings on F&O remind me of that old Weekender, long defunct. We have a collection of incisive commentary about the important stuff going on in our world, alongside reports that place events in context. Set aside some of your precious time; you’ll find it time well spent.

The World Economic Forum is wrapped up, reflectively, in Desperate in Davos — policymakers struggle for answers, by Noah Barkin.

Beneath the veneer of can-do optimism at the World Economic Forum this month was a creeping concern that the politicians, diplomats and central bankers who flock each year to this gathering of the global elite are at the mercy of geopolitical and economic forces beyond their control.

Have the terrorists won, in Europe? What’s it all for? That’s the underpinning of Analysis: In crisis, interests trump European values, by Paul Taylor.

Europe is torn between upholding its values and pursuing its interests in the multiple crises over refugees, challenges to the rule of law, relations with Russia and Turkey, and Britain’s membership. Political and economic interests are mostly prevailing over the EU’s declared values and governance standards, but it is not clear that the outcomes are any more effective.

The man who in my books is a “he who should be not be named” has sparked much reporting about his father Fred Trump. Even if you are, like me, now desperately shunning all mention of this unmentionable man, take a look at this piece. Also, it’s a good read:

 

Woody Guthrie, ‘Old Man Trump,’ and a racist foundation. By Will Kaufman

Woody Guthrie’s two-year tenancy in one of the buildings owned by Fred Trump — father of “The Donald” —  and his relationship with the real estate mogul of New York’s outer boroughs produced some of Guthrie’s most bitter writings.

Still in our Arts section, ever wondered who decides what colours are in fashion, and what drives the choice? You might like What Pantone’s colors of 2016 mean for the future of design, by Ryan Russell.

Pantone chose to blend two shades instead of one for its 2016 colour in an attempt, said the company, to break from tradition and “transcend cultural and gender norms.”  For decades, pink has been associated with girls and blue with boys. Could Pantone’s decision to focus on gender influence the designs of everything, from clothing to house paints?

SandersStrong big essays in F&O’s Commentary this week are far ranging: Jonathan Manthorpe sums up the dire state of the Arab Spring five years on, while Tom Regan looks at the chances of America’s Bernie Sanders of running for US President under the Democratic ticket.

Five years on, Arab Spring’s thirst for blood still unsated, by Jonathan Manthorpe

It is sobering to remember now the optimism about the “Arab Spring” that swept through the Middle East and supportive countries in Europe and North America at the upwelling across the region of popular frustration at dictatorial, repressive governments. The throngs of young people in the city squares chanting for democracy did not constitute a political movement of any utility, and the Middle East in general is in much worse shape than it was before the Arab Spring bloomed five years ago.

Why Bernie Sanders won’t win the Democratic nomination, by Tom Regan

With the momentum favoring Bernie Sanders, why is it that I am predicting that ultimately Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee for president in 2016? It boils down to a simple factor: Bernie Sanders is too white. And so are Iowa and New Hampshire.

Last but not least, ICYMI:

Momentum fading for global economic growth. By RAHUL KARUNAKAR  Report

Taiwan set to complete the transition to democracy JONATHAN MANTHORPE, International Affairs Column

How coal left scars on a Chinese town  JASON LEE  Report/Photo-essayDavid Bowie, an extraordinary innovator MIKE JONES  Analysis

Class war returns, this time as a global issue JONATHAN MANTHORPE, International Affairs Column

DAL RICHARDS: The bandleader who almost lived forever ROD MICKLEBURGH  Arts column

Disneyfied Star Wars an iconic kids’ flick PENNEY KOME  Column

Reporter-turned-politician sues media giant for defamation BRIAN BRENNAN  Report

China’s soil as poisonous as its air and water JONATHAN MANTHORPE, International Affairs Column

Unpacking the backpack of Christian privilege PENNEY KOME: Over Easy Column

Adios, Buena Vista Social Club ROD MICKLEBURGH Arts

Life goes on in rural Newfoundland, a Photo-Essay GREG LOCKE

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